Daily Poem: [Im]migratory Patterns ~ James A. H. White

October 18, 2018 | Filed Under Poem for Hela | No Comments
[Im]migratory Patterns
~ James A. H. White

Ask me where I’m from, & depending on the day
/ immigrant I feel like being, I may point at the sky

as if it were the embodiment of all places. Ask me
what I’ve given up, & depending on the hour

/ emigrant I feel like honoring, I may point at the dirt
as if it were the embodiment of all things. Ask me

what it’s like to now be an American, & I’ll explain
why motionless people will never understand a subject

without a verb. Come, sit—stand, if you like. Ask
the arrow what it misses of the bow, & it’ll say yes.

Ask the throat what it misses of a word, & it’ll cry
out: I don’t know if I’ll ever find another like it. Ask

the navy noren curtains hanging in each of my doorways
why they choose to part the rooms of my house, &

they may say: because that’s what we’re made for. Ask me
where I’m going, & depending on the minute, I may point

simply forward, may move to the front of the flock.



Daily Poem: Damnatio Memoriae ~ Nicholas Samaras

October 17, 2018 | Filed Under Poem for Hela | No Comments
Damnatio Memoriae
~ Nicholas Samaras
“Damnation of Memory”

How smart the Roman Senate was
to remove from remembrance all those
who brought discredit to their State by various
causes of dishonor. How smart to close
the record of memory, to erase the existence
of anybody: no life, no influence or legacy.
And you, old mentor, alive in some distance—
who were you to earn no clemency,
being the guru in my impressionable youth,
to lead me to view the magazines you read,
the gossip you spread, nothing about you the truth?
I regained myself when I removed you, instead—
the misdemeanor in my life we don’t discuss.
Who were you? I don’t remember us.



Daily Poem: Vermeer’s Pearl ~ Lloyd Schwartz

October 16, 2018 | Filed Under Poem for Hela | No Comments

Vermeer’s Pearl
~ Lloyd Schwartz

I used to boast that I never lived in a city without a Vermeer.

—You do now, a friend pointed out, when the one Vermeer in my city
was stolen.

It’s still missing.

The museum displays its empty frame.

But there are eight Vermeers in New York, more than any other city—
and not so far away.

Sometimes even more.

Once, the visiting Vermeer was one of his most beloved paintings.

It was even more beautiful than I remembered.

A young girl, wearing a turban of blue and yellow silk, is just turning
her face to watch you entering the room.

She seems slightly distracted by someone a little off to your right, maybe
someone she knows better than you.

Her mouth is slightly open, as if she’s just taken a breath and is about
to speak.

The light falling on her is reflected not only on her large pearl earring
but also in her large shining eyes (“Those are pearls,” sings Ariel of a
man drowned in a tempest at sea,”that were his eyes”).

And on her moist lips.

There’s even a little spot of moisture in a corner of her mouth.

Some art historians think this was not intended to be a portrait, just a
study of a figure in an exotic costume.

Yet her presence is so palpable, she seems right there in the room with
you, radiating unique and individual life.

Already in the museum is another Vermeer in which a woman writing
a letter has a similar pearl earring.

She’s interrupted by her maid handing her a letter—is it from the person
she’s just been writing to?

And in a nearby museum there’s a painting of a young woman with
piercing eyes and another enormous pearl dangling from her ear (a
“teardrop pearl”).

She’s staring out a window and tuning a lute.

Scholars tell us that these pearls aren’t really pearls—no pearl so large
has ever come to light.

No oyster could be big enough.

So the famous pearl is probably just glass painted to look like a pearl.

Pearl of no price.

Yet as you look, the illusion of the pearl—the painted pearl, glistening,
radiant, fragile, but made real by the light it radiates—becomes before
your eyes a metaphor for the girl wearing it.

Or if not the girl, then Vermeer’s painting of her.


Girl with a Pearl Earring, oil on canvas, 1665.


Daily Poem: Little Allegory ~ Peter Cooley

October 15, 2018 | Filed Under Poem for Hela | No Comments

Little Allegory
~ Peter Cooley

“I’m not the kind of heaven you thought you’d find,”
the sky said, spreading itself across the floor

here, in the kitchen, its gold leaf freaked and split
as it appeared and disappeared and stained

the morning with its radiance.
“And furthermore,

you’re not my idea of a prophet or a sage.
But here we are, plain-speaking in blank verse.

Look, I’m all the transcendence you will find today
if you’ll just step into my shifting path—

light, shadow, light—chiaroscuro, painters call it.”
And this is when the dust motes spin, haloes

each one, around an angel on the air,
and this is how my story suspends, there

where I am leaping, dancing, rising as I speak,
no difference between my step and the supernal,

every note a grace note, that deep, high music.


Weekly Insight from the Oracles for October 15, 2018

October 14, 2018 | Filed Under Weekly Insight | No Comments

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